We won't do this every week, heading into the playoffs (promise). But this week … we'll have to say it one more time.
James Madison pitched a shutout today against a team that makes the FCS Playoffs regularly — New Hampshire. Over in the Missouri Valley Football Conference? North Dakota State knocked around another program that regularly makes the FCS Playoffs — Northern Iowa.
See where we're going for this? You're starting at the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country. Barring an upset in the Valley with NDSU (not likely at this point), we're talking about two programs hosting through three rounds in December and facing off in Frisco, Texas for a brawl in a stadium that may not have enough seats for these two rabid fanbases. NDSU has given up 81 points in 8 games, JMU has given up 80 … in 8 games. Anybody see the trend here?
[divider]MORE: Compare Any Two FCS Players or Any Two FCS Teams[divider]
Both the Dukes and the Bison are 8-0. JMU has a clearer path to 11-0 and one of the top two seed spots (and the accompanying homefield advantage). NDSU's Missouri Valley Conference schedule still has landmines, but games against South Dakota State and South Dakota look at least slightly more manageable than maybe they did earlier in the year, as both programs have looked human at times this year.
At this point, it just doesn't seem like this will go any other way but bound for Frisco. But of course, it is football.[divider]
THE AUTO-BID BATTLE
When it comes to automatic FCS playoff bids, there are four conferences that at this point look like they are probably single bid conferences. The Big South does have an active battle going with Kennesaw State and Monmouth clinging to hopes of a playoff bid, while defending Big South power Charleston Southern would love to mess it all up. Monmouth cleared CSU this weekend, but this conference is far from done. Need more data folks. Maybe this is a two-bid league, but it depends on other conferences.
The real question mark at this point is the Patriot League. Colgate is the last FCS team to beat James Madison (can you believe that?). There are several players still on that roster that remember that (paging Pat Afriyie). Colgate is the only Patriot team with a winning record and opened with a classic win over the Big Sky's Cal Poly. Stay tuned.[divider]
THE REST OF THE PACK (so far)
If the playoffs began this week, Northern Arizona would be the Big Sky champion, Jacksonville State would be solid with the OVC, Wofford would be the kings of the Southern Conference and Central Arkansas would be set with the Southland Conference. At this point, those programs should be considered part of the upper echelon of the seeding process. But of course we have three weeks left so don't book your travel just yet. But the programs above are in good shape.
HERO Sports' Brian McLaughlin takes his shot at the FCS Playoff seeding after today's results
|2||North Dakota St.||8-0|